The head of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s election commission announced on Friday the commitment to meet the December 31 deadline for the release of full provisional presidential results. This comes in response to opposition calls for a re-run of the disputed vote, which has been dismissed as the reaction of “bad losers.”
The CENI commission has faced criticism for handling the December 20 presidential and legislative elections, marked by delays and challenges in the vote-counting process. The opposition and independent observers argue that these issues have compromised the credibility of the results.
Despite logistical challenges, malfunctioning voting machines, and incidents of violence during the chaotic campaign and polling in Africa’s second-largest country, the CENI president, Denis Kadima, assured Reuters that the commission is on track to release full provisional results from the presidential vote by the original deadline on Sunday, December 31.
Kadima addressed allegations that the CENI did not compile results in full accordance with electoral law, emphasizing that the commission’s legal duty is to produce results promptly. He defended the use of results from voting machines, stating that it contributes to the efficiency of the process.
The independent joint vote-monitoring mission of Congo’s Catholic and Protestant Churches urged the CENI to publish results based only on correctly consolidated tallies from local centers, raising concerns about the integrity of the extended vote.
Kadima dismissed calls for a re-run of the election by some main challengers of President Felix Tshisekedi, who is leading comfortably in the interim count. He attributed the opposition’s demand for a new vote to being “bad losers” and affirmed that the CENI conducted the process transparently.
Responding to reports of mishandling sensitive materials and conducting election operations outside official centers, Kadima labeled these as limited cases not sanctioned by the CENI. He stated that those found responsible would face sanctions.
The election dispute adds to the challenges faced by Congo, exacerbating existing issues of widespread poverty and a security crisis. The contested results have sparked unrest, leading to injuries during a recent police crackdown on a banned election march. The opposition has expressed its intention to hold more protests.
The latest CENI preliminary results, updated on Friday, indicate President Tshisekedi leading with over 72% of approximately 15.9 million votes counted so far. The total voter turnout from Congo’s 44 million registered voters has not been disclosed. The CENI has processed results from 52,173 polling stations out of 75,969, according to its latest tally.